Choice About Unc (10: 3,3,4) This issue carries one of the greatest histories of any coin from the Mint of the United States. It is now accepted to be the first coinage issue from the United States. A meager 1,500 pieces were struck from 75 Spanish silver dollars deposited by Thomas Jefferson on July 11, 1792. From Jefferson's own notebook he wrote: "Delivd. 75 D at the mint to be coined". Two days later, on July 13, he wrote: "Recd. From the mint 1500 half-dimes of the new coinage." Following this transaction Jefferson left Philadelphia for Monticello. On this journey, Jefferson made many purchases that were denominated in half dimes. Prior to this journey, his transactions were noted in odd amounts, typically pounds, shillings and pence.
President Washington, in his 1792 State of the Union address, given on November 6, 1792, he told of the new coinage:
"In execution of the authority given by the Legislature measures have been taken for engaging some artists from abroad to aid in the establishment of our mint. Others have been employed at home. Provision has been made of the requisite buildings, and these are now putting into proper condition for the purposes of the establishment. There has also been a small beginning in the coinage of half dimes, the want of small coins in circulation calling the first attention to them."
About 400 examples survive, mostly in low grade, as these were spent by Jefferson during the Summer of 1792. Being a 5-cent coin in an era when the half-real was valued at 6 cents, these were spent rather than saved. Slightly over 100 examples are certified by PCGS and NGC. A few spectacular examples survive, these being gifts to the President, Director of the Mint and other dignitaries who showed interest. The examples that were spent circulated extensively. As many as 90% of the surviving issue are struck on planchets that have roller marks. These lines, which look like adjustment marks, are from the crude rolling out of the silver bars. The present example is one of the few examples missing these marks. This issue is also normally found with one die off-center. The present example is an exception as well.
The present piece is a beautiful wholesome example which shows only light circulation wear. A light violet tone enhances the surfaces. A few light hairlines are present. A few light scratches are visible - from the A in HALF to N in UNITED and from the eagle's tail to the I in AMERICA. A few old stains are also visible. Altogether an attractive example for the grade.